the simple guide for how to measure for a dress form

So you have decided to up your game with a professional dress form? Now its time to get down to the numbers. The following are the measurements which we have used to create our professional dress forms. The first three of which (the bust, waist and hips), are the most important. All you need for this is a tape measure, pen, paper, perhaps a mirror, and most importantly, a bit of honesty.

While we do carry a wide variety of dress form sizes and styles, it is very common that your measurements will not line up exactly to one of our specific sizes. In these instances, we would advise in getting the smaller form rather than the larger form. The reason for this is that while you can always pad a smaller form up in those areas where your measurements are larger, you can never pad the form down (in those areas where you are smaller). For instance, if your bust is close to a size 6 while your waist and hips are more like a 10, you would probably do best with the size 6 dress form and just pad up the waist and hips as needed. With the size 10 you would never be able to get the bust down to size. If you need it, we do carry a fantastic and complete padding kit from our friends at Fabulous Fit with a significant price discount (here).

bust measurements for a dress form

1. Bust

The bust measurement is calculated by taking the circumference (front through back) of the fullest area around the bust. This is usually where the nipples are. Our dress forms are made with a pin in the center of the bust (visible in this photo) to mark the horizontal degree of this measurement.

waist measurements for a dress form

2. Waist

For the waist, you would need to take the circumference of the narrowest area around the waist. This is usually where the belly button is. Our dress forms all come with a secure ribbon around the waist area (hidden under the red line in this photo) which makes for a great draping guide. Exhale before this measurement.

hip measurements for a dress form

3. Hips

The hips measurement is taken from the circumference of the fullest area around the hip section. For some people this is where the hip bones protrude while for others it is slightly below.

neck measurements for a dress form

4. Neck

The neck measurement is the circumference of around the neck along its height.

shoulder measurements for a dress form

5. Shoulder

The shoulder measurement is that of a single shoulder measured from the base of the neck to where the shoulder starts tapering off. Here too, our dress forms are made with a nice seam along this shoulder line for a draping guide.

bust spread or apex to apex measurements for a dress form

6. Bust Spread

The bust spread, also know as "apex to apex", is the distance between the fullest section of one side of the bust to the other (usually nipple to nipple).

back width measurements for a dress form

7. Back Width

The back width is taken as the horizontal distance of the widest section of the back.

front length measurements for a dress form

8. Front Length

The front length measurement is the vertical distance between the base of the neck and waist line - all on the front of the torso. Our dress forms have a seam running along this line for guide use during draping.

back length measurements for a dress form

9. Back Length

Similar to the ‘front length’, the back length measurement is the vertical distance between the base of the neck and waist line - all on the back of the torso. Here again, our dress forms have a seam running along this line to use as a guide during draping.

crotch measurements for a dress form

10. Crotch

The crotch measurement is taken starting from the center of the waist on the front, down through the crotch area to the back, and up to the center of the waist on the back. Our forms have pins in both the center of the waist in the front and the center of the waist in the back. This measurement, as well as those that follow, are only pertinent to our full body professional forms.

inseam measurements for a dress form

11. Inseam

The inseam measurement is taken from the bottom of the crotch (in between the legs) down through the ankle area.

outseam measurements for a dress form

12. Outseam

The outseam measurement is the distance between the waist and the ankle area. This is very similar to the ‘inseam’ only that it begins higher up at the waist.

thigh measurements for a dress form

13. Thigh

The thigh measurement is the circumference around the fullest area of the thigh.

knee measurements for a dress form

14. Knee

The knee measurement is the circumference around the kneecap.

leg measurements for a dress form

15. Leg

The thigh measurement - occasionally referred to as the calf measurement - is the circumference around the fullest area of the leg.